There’s a lot to buy in Santa Fe. I’ve never seen so much art, jewelry and pottery anywhere in my travels. But the only souvenir I really wanted to bring home was a ristra, those long strings of dried chile peppers (or other vegetables) that hang all over the city, including from lampposts in the main square. Of course, getting one of these home intact would be near impossible in my already crowded suitcase. And I’m not even sure that if I did manage to pack it safely that I would be allowed to carry it through Canadian customs. The best I could manage was to sketch a few of the most beautiful ristras — one of chiles and another one of corn from the farmer’s market — in some empty places in my sketchbook.

The corn is sketched on top of an erased (and awful) drawing of a museum building from my first day in Santa Fe when I was still getting used to the altitude and the dryness.

24 Comments on “Ristras”

  1. Savanna Ouellette says:

    Beautiful sketches! I have always been a sucker for chili ristras myself though I have never seen a corn one, Love your posts!


  2. Cathy C says:

    Lovely paintings. I agree with you on the quantity of art in Santa Fe. I feel an intense art high when I go there because of the plethora of amazing crafts and art offerings.


  3. -N- says:

    Nice paintings! How about you make your ristras?


    • Thanks N! I tried years ago but it’s not dry enough here and they got moldy. Plus I can’t find the right chiles. I will just have to enjoy them when I’m there.

      Liked by 1 person

      • -N- says:

        Interesting! I live in SoCal and it is dry here to the point our peppers dry on their plants and are good to use as new ones grow next to them. Sadly, we can no longer water our lawns, so we will look like the state of Arizona and such too soon. I could make my own ristras – might be kind of fun. However, if you do handle hot peppers, wear gloves! Sensitivity increases with each exposure.


  4. laura33 says:

    Beautiful! I love Santa Fe and Taos. And don’t miss the weavers in Espanola and Chimayo!


    • Laura, I will have to go back! When I am teaching I never get to see anything! I never made it to Chimayo but I did receive a gift of the red earth that has healing powers : )


  5. Pamela Peters says:

    Hi Shari, I am enjoying your Santa Fe artwork very much. I have been there many times since 1980. Even if you took a ristra home, it would not last. They mold quickly. They need only really dry air.

    Keep these fabulous paintings coming! Pam Peters, San Diego

    Sent from my iPad



  6. Mary Duncan says:

    Having lived inNM and a have lot of family still there I understand why NM can capture everyone’s mind!! It is rightfully called “ The Land of Enchantment “ 💞 I always bring the Chili Ristas home with me to Phoenix and hang them on either side of my wrought iron gate !
    I love your sketches I think you have captured it !


    • Mary, lucky you that you can bring these home. In Montreal we pay a lot of money for just a few small whole dried Mexican chiles in a bag. When I saw how many of these there are on one string I couldn’t believe it. This would cost a small fortune here.


  7. Denise says:

    Such fun paintings to look at, love all the colors! Whatever the “mistake”was under the corn, it was a perfect fit for this rendering.


  8. Elaine says:

    They are so cool! Come late September when the chilies have been harvested and gathered for tying (they are still soft & pliable) check on line to see if anyone can ship one to you.
    I am sure it’s been done.


    • That’s a great idea, but I’m not sure if anyone would ship across the border. Plus, someone else told me that they mold quickly in more humid air like we have in Montreal. I think I will just have to enjoy them when I am there!


  9. Lori says:

    Soooo good!!!


  10. Interesting paintings, I really like the one with the Chilie Stalk and the old Spanish Building.


  11. Cray Warner says:

    Shari,I’ve been a fan of yours for the last few years when I found you doing online classes for Blue something; an online company that offered all kinds of art and baking classes. I fell in love with your soft, quiet demeanor as you spoke, drew and painted.As a high school clerk, I was able to be home during the Covid pandemic and it was wonderful to have time to do my quilting and painting. Eventually, it was time to head back to work and it’s been tough again to have the time and the mindset to paint and draw. You came to mind a few weeks ago and I looked up your website. Wow! Like a breath of fresh air again. I clicked on one of your videos and felt the peace you bring to learning. Peace is not something we have here in our high school, so I closed my office door and enjoyed a few short videos and became inspired again to really try and paint while I’m off work this summer. I’m so glad I signed up to receive your emails and see what you’ve painted for the day. I laughed this morning when you said, I painted corn over an awful drawing of a building. Its great that you share your struggles! I also laughed that you couldn’t figure out a way to carry home a bunch of chilies so you drew them instead!!  One of these days my husband and I will be able to make a trip to Montreal. My brother and sister-in-law have been several times and always say how much they love it.   Thank you for sharing your gift of teaching.Have a wonderful day and a safe trip home.Sincerely,kimi warnerwalterboro, sc (a small, southern, lowcountry community right off I-95) 🙂 


    • Kimi, what a beautiful and thoughtful comment to read this morning. Kind thoughts are much appreciated these days.
      As a former teacher in a college, I certainly can relate to the value of closing your office door and enjoying some moments of quiet.
      It’s interesting to read about where you live. I have taught often in SC, and I love the lowcountry. In fact, on our drive home from Sanibel Island in Florida, we have often stopped in Walterboro, perhaps even overnight. My last workshop before Covid was in Spring Island, SC.
      Thanks so much for all the kind words about the courses. I really appreciate that.
      And I hope that someday you get to come to my beautiful city. There’s lots to paint here, as I’m sure you must know from my videos.


  12. Alison Hall says:

    Sometimes a drawing/sketch is an even better souvenir.


  13. The ristras attracted me when I was there too. They liven up so many scenes, since you find them everywhere. I’m studying your dried corn to see how you just indicated some of the kernels and did them in a variety of ways. Thanks again for sharing!


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